Gov. Andrew Cuomo is enjoying a formidable base of support 18 months before Election Day, with nearly half of respondents to a new poll saying they would vote to re-elect him.
That backing is increasingly coming from Democrat-heavy New York City and the suburbs, while enthusiasm has ebbed upstate, a largely Republican area where the Democratic governor once held wider bipartisan appeal, the NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll shows.
That shift likely is the result of Cuomo's embrace of more left-leaning positions on gun control, same-sex marriage, and women's equality, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
Republicans who once applauded his tough budgetary stances on taxes and state spending seem now to be turning against him.
"What's sharpened in the last six months is that Gov. Cuomo was once reaching out across regional and party lines and really pitching a shutout and now it's more of a traditional upstate/downstate, Democratic/Republican difference," Miringoff said.
Cuomo "is still popular, but it's now less so across the board."
The poll surveyed 956 registered voters statewide from April 16 to April 18, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The results follow a similar shift revealed in a NBC New York/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll last month, which found more voters calling Cuomo a liberal and fewer calling him a moderate.
Asked what they'd do if the election were held today, 47 percent of registered voters responded that they'd cast ballots for Cuomo, according to the poll. A quarter said they'd vote against him, with 13 percent unsure and 15 percent saying it would depend on who his opponent was.
No Republican has announced plans to run against Cuomo.
The numbers are much higher among Democrats, 62 percent of whom said they would vote for Cuomo, and in New York City, where 57 percent said they'd vote for him. By contrast, 39 percent of upstate residents and 30 percent of Republicans said they'd vote for him.
That was the first time Marist asked that question, so there is no earlier numbers to compare. But answers to other questions could help explain what's happening.
For instance: while 54 percent of voters approve of Cuomo's job performance, 37 percent of Republicans do, down from 46 percent in March. A similar trend exists with the governor's favorability rating -- whether they have a positive opinion about him as a person. Cuomo's statewide favorability remains essentially unchanged at 65 percent, but among Republicans that number plummets to 46 percent, down from 60 percent in March.
Another encouraging set of numbers for Cuomo: nearly three-quarters of voters say that New York's economic difficulties aren't Cuomo's fault. The governor took office in 2011, after the country's recession. Among Republicans, 72 percent say he isn't to blame.